Sitting amongst an assortment of baskets, the blue haired Kaldorei woman carefully snipped leaves from the plants in the garden. Turning each growth gently, she examined the leaves before choosing what to prune away. Each basket held a different variety. The guard standing nearby approached slowly, placing his hand down to draw her attention. She looked up at him and he nodded toward the archway. A young courier stood there, letter in hand. She waved the boy over and he handed it to her. She dropped a few coins into his hand and smiled. “Thank you. Stop over at the inn and get yourself something to eat and drink if you wish. Tell them I sent you.” He nodded and ran off. The boy never spoke. She suspected she frightened him her first day there. She had woken from one of her dreams and he was just outside. Poor thing.
Looking down at the envelope, she spotted the Silverthorn seal. Was she being summoned? Surely Kalithil would have told her. She took a breath and broke the wax. Sliding the parchment out and unfolding it, a familiar script made her smile.
I was hoping to visit with you today. I hope that you are well enough for that.
Kalithil tells me I will not find you if you do not guide me in. I know to come to Shadowmoon Valley, but where should I find you?
Please let me know when and where and I will be there, treats in hand.
She sat there for some time staring at the page. Could she let the Scion see her like this? Could she keep herself calm enough for it? She had done a terrible job of it with Dæsin, that much was certain. But at least now she had some time to prepare herself. She rose slowly, gathering up the small baskets into the larger one. Scooping it up, she made her way toward the inn. The guard followed behind, softly humming to himself. She chuckled a little. The man had been told multiple times he didn’t need to follow her all the time. Yet he felt inclined to watch over her. He had helped her feel like she could be outside without fear of panic. That much was true. He discovered a way to let her know someone was approaching before they startled her, which she appreciated. He never entered a building behind her though. Very respectful. And the tune he hummed constantly was joyful. She kept meaning to ask him what it was, but other things were always more important.
Inside the inn, the boy was stuffing his face with stew. She sighed contentedly. At least when he came here, he was assured a good meal. She went up to the room and wrote a reply. Sealing it with a small rune, she walked down to him. “Will you take this back to the lady who sent me the letter? You can finish eating first. And take a cookie with you.” She held the envelope out to him. His little fingers took it from her hand and stuffed it into his pocket. He nodded and slurped up the last of the stew in his bowl. Grabbing a cookie from the bowl he started to dart out. She stopped him and handed him a gold coin. He seemed confused but she just smiled and tipped her head toward the door. And off he went.
Hefting the large bag onto her shoulder, Tindomiel opened her map again. She had followed Lilybeth’s instructions and come just up the road from Embari Village. But there was nothing here. No sign of anyone or anything. How many wards did Kalithil have on this place? Suddenly the air in front of her rippled and Lilybeth’s form stepped through. Many then. She wondered if it had always been like that or if Kalithil had increased the level since bringing the girl here. Shaking it off, she smiled. “Lilybeth. Thank you for letting me come.” She nodded to the space behind Lilybeth. “Impressive. Has he shown you how to do it yet?” Lilybeth chuckled a little and shook her head. “Well, he should.”
Lilybeth bowed to the woman. “Come inside, that looks heavy. Can I help at all?” Tindomiel laughed and nodded. She reached in and pulled out a small picnic basket. Lilybeth’s eyes lit up. She always brought the best food! Taking it from her, she led her through the secret opening. She heard Tindomiel gasp as the barrier touched her skin.
As they walked through, the fort suddenly became visible. The grand walls made Tindomiel’s eyes grow wide. “Of course it would be this well built. He would have nothing less.” She laughed lightly. “Do you have a favorite spot to sit and eat? I have a blanket to sit on if it’s outside.”
Lilybeth pushed her long hair back and smiled. “Just up here is a lovely garden. Let’s go there.” She heard the soft shuffle of boots take their place behind her. She stopped. Turning to the man she gently said, “Gerald, this is Tindomiel Silverthorn. Scion of the House Silverthorn.” The man bowed deeply. Tindomiel bowed in return. “If you wouldn’t mind, I would appreciate that our conversation is kept private. Stand away where you cannot hear, and ask the others to do the same.” He nodded and let them continue down the path for a bit before slowly following.
“Got yourself a watchdog?” Tindomiel asked.
“Self appointed. But he’s respectful. And kind. So I let him. And when Kalithil is here, he stays away because he knows I am safe.”
They set out the meal and relaxed onto the grass. The aroma of flowers filled the air as a gentle breeze blew through. Tindomiel let Lilybeth tell her about their time here. She nodded and smiled, all the while trying to figure how to begin. By the time they had gotten to dessert, she realized she had no choice but to get it out. “I know this has been so hard for you. I am so very sorry about all of it.” She sighed. “Kalithil thought that you could use some explanation as to why I chose to do what I did. He said you are confused, and I would like to help with that. I know talking about it all is hard. Please do not feel like to have to put on a brave face.” She reached out and covered Lilybeth’s hand with her own. Her voice was gentle and as comforting as she could make it. “I know how much this is hurting you and I want to try to take as much away as I can. There isn’t an easy fix, but maybe understanding things?” She looked at the girl’s face, her eyes hopeful.
Lilybeth looked down at their hands. She shuddered a little and took a breath to calm herself. Looking back up at the woman’s silver eyes she nodded. “I don’t know if I can let him….I can see him.”
The older Kaldorei smiled sadly. “I know. But you won’t be alone. Kalithil and I will be there. And…we are working on some things to make it feel safer for you. For starters, I will be ‘Making the bastard sober up’ for you.” Lilybeth’s eyes shot open wide. “Yes, dear. He heard you. And if you have any other requests like that, you just voice them with us. He owes you a lot and your opinion matters to me.”
The young woman shook her head, surprised. “He misses nothing, does he?”
“Very little. There’s something else too. I suggested that Kalithil make something for you, to prevent Tellanon from getting too close to you. He told me that would be a bit complicated, but making something for Tellanon to wear that would hurt him if he did so would be easier. I decided it would be more appropriate as well. Would that make you more comfortable?” She waited for an answer.
Lilybeth sat quietly for a moment. “I…I normally would say no. I don’t want people to be hurt. But him…I…I do. Gods! Am I a bad person? I want him to hurt! Like me! I want him…” She trailed off, tears forming in her eyes. Tindomiel shot over to her side, wrapping her arm around her. “I’m sorry…he’s your father…I shouldn’t say that.”
Tindomiel squeezed her arm. “You say what you feel and I will decide what is an insult. None of that was. Ok? And for now? He is just Tellanon. Maybe some day he will be my father. For now, he is a man who has something we want and who did something terrible to you.” She just sat, stroking the girl’s hair.
After a few minutes, Lilybeth found the courage to ask. “Why? Why are you letting me have access to all of it? Why are you doing this for me? I’m not one of you! I’m just Kalithil’s mate. I’m…I don’t understand.” Her voice was desperate for answers.
Tindomiel sat up and shifted so she could look Lilybeth in the face. “You may not be a Silverthorn, but you are one of us. You are not less than us because your hair is blue. If anything, I think you are something more. You possess a gentle soul and a power and skill that none of us can compete with.” She paused a moment, wiping Lilybeth’s face off with a silk handkerchief. “No one else could take the knowledge of the Treasury and put it in place the way you can. And no one hold’s Kalithil’s love the way you do. No one. And after all you have done for him, for us, you deserve to be rewarded. I could think of no better way to do that, than to feed your desire for knowledge.”
Lilybeth nodded. “Thank you. I…I don’t know that I feel very powerful right now though.” She twisted her hands in her lap.
“Power does not always come from where you expect it to. And right now, the only thing I am concerned with it helping you get well again. Would you like to know why I chose what I did for Tellanon?”
Lilybeth looked up at the woman. “You don’t have to. It’s your choice.”
“No. Well, yes, but no, I do have to. You need to understand my decision. Kalithil reminded me that not everyone has to like it. But I want you to trust me. Trust comes from understanding, does it not?”
Very softly she responded, “Yes.”
“His life has been nothing but tragedy and torture. Anything traditional I might have chosen would mean nothing to him. I will not kill him, because while what he did was terrible, it doesn’t deserve death. I need to, instead, force him to learn about people. REAL people. Not just as a subject of a book. But the emotions, the raw side of life that he has no experience in and he has been hiding from for so long. So while I know that seeing him will be terrifying for you, it will be a very harsh lesson for him. It will be his first being on the opposite side. He knows what he did was wrong, but he doesn’t really understand it.” She shakes her head. “He is very broken Lilybeth. He has been since childhood. And then he met Mire. His whole life has been punishment. I cannot treat him like I would anyone else. His mind doesn’t work the same way.”
Lilybeth sat quietly, picking at the hem of her dress. “So…so seeing me would maybe…be punishment of a sort for him?”
Tindomiel nodded. “I am hoping so. I am not sure it will get all the way through. But he has already been told he must be sober for the meeting, so he will not have the haze to hide behind. As for the rest, well, we take that slowly. You and I will go to the Treasury, just the two of us for a while. And when you are ready, we will let him in with you. Not a moment before. But…I think it will help you heal. To at least focus on all of the beautiful things down there. And maybe, some day, the two of you will be able to work together. But we will take it all in steps. All right?”
Lilybeth shuddered. The very thought of working with the man made her want to crawl into a hole. But it made sense. His mind didn’t work like a normal person’s, so why would his actions? “He has not harmed you?”
Tindomiel laughed suddenly, wrapping her arms around Lilybeth. “Gods! You really are so sweet! If he had, nothing on this world or the next would protect him. Between Kalithil feeling like he needed to do what he should have in the first place, and Forosuul’s rage, there would be nothing left of him. Stop worrying about me and take care of yourself, sweet girl.” She pulled out a book and placed it in front of Lilybeth. “Do you think you have the energy to make me a quick copy of this?”
Lilybeth picked up the volume. “Human Wedding Customs and Traditions? Why? OH! Are you going to do a human ceremony? Because of Forosuul? That’s so exciting! Can I help? Can I COME?!” She started flipping through the pages rapidly. “Oh this should be easy. I can finish this today! Who’s going to make your dress? You should have Kalithil do it. He made me a gown that is so pretty, you want to see it? Oh wait…it’s being cleaned. Next time.
The older woman just smiled. The sweet, joyful girl was still there. She just needed to be reminded of herself again. “Well, you are absolutely invited. But, I am not certain who else will be there. Will you feel safe enough with the whole House around you?”
The girl smiled broadly. “Safer than anywhere else, I should think.”
“Good. Now, take me on a tour before you get started on that? I’d like to see everything!” They stood and made their way into the main portion of the fort, talking all along the way.